Brazil is the largest country in South America. It covers nearly half of the entire continent. Sao Paulo the largest city in Brazil as well as all of South America. Sao Paulo ranks in the top 10 most populated cities in the world. The statistics are debatable but the city proper has a population of right around 11 million. If you include the metropolitan area the number jumps to something between 17-18 million people.
The conditions of our arrival in Sao Paulo were less than desirable. I knew that our bus arrived in the downtown bus station at 4:00 am. Believing bus stations around the world to generally be in areas that are not so nice, I was concerned about being in the Sao Paulo bus station at such an hour. Add to that, the majority of information I had heard about Sao Paulo was how dangerous it was; gangs of children will surround you and rob you in the daytime. Add to that, our bus had not stopped since it left Iguazu City in Argentina, leaving us with no Brazilian money. I could only pray there would be a ATM machine in the bus station. Further prayers would be needed to ensure if a machine existed, it would be open and operating. I had visions of me approaching the ATM in the bus station and several bad people lurking around corners and in the shadows waiting rob me of my cash withdraw.
The ATM was there, it work and there were no bad lurkers! We took a prepaid taxi to our Couch Surfing host for safety. The taxi cost 43 Brazilian Reals (about $20.0)
Our host in Sao Paulo, Virgillio normally leaves for his work at 5:00am. For our arrival, he adjusted his work schedule so he could leave at 8:00. We arrived at his place with no problems. We did have to have the security guard call Virgillio to wake him us, because our loud knocks on the door did not work.
Sao Paulo does not have so many tourist sights. There is a nice park, a couple of museums, the usual churches and some shopping markets. We saw all of these.
We found the subway to be a photo opportunity. The volume of people reminded us of life in Japan.
And speaking of Japan…Sao Paulo seems to have a bit of a Japan craze going on. There is a substantial Japanese community there and they have built up a neighborhood to create Japan Town. Yes, we did go there and Soon Jeong bought some Ramen and a other things.
There are also many sushi restaurants around Sao Paulo. Not just the often found, soso transplants but REAL sushi. It was a bit on the expensive side but it was good sushi. Virgillio and his girlfriend, Patricia go for sushi every Thursday night. They are flexible, we all went for sushi on a Friday night.
Every day when we walked from Virgillios apartment to the subway we passed a CAFEE that sold fresh squeezed orange juice. A glass of juice was a great bargain at only 2 Reals. (Less than a dollar) Sometimes we would have a glass when we left in the morning and when we returned at night. We got to know the man who was in charge of operating the Juice machines. There was also a machine that would squeeze sugarcane. We saw this machine in operation one morning and we showed great interest in it. Our new friend gave us a free sample. It was good but too sweet for me. Soon Jeong liked it. She said it was very sweet but good because it was a natural sweet.